ReGameCapDay 35 & 36: An Early Christmas Present

*spoiler alert*  The Pens are rolling with their *backup* goalie as their starter. Their starter isn’t actually injured he is just going through a rough patch.  They have enough on IR to fill half a team I swear. Yet, they just keep winning. Oh, and that new Star Wars movie is out *yawn*.

It’s the 2nd game of a 3 game Western swing.  8 days living that hard life on the road. The type of trips that build teams… while half you team is at home, in their mancaves (or over Sid’s) watching the game or some Hallmark Christmas movie.

The Oil came out hard like they all popped a blue pill before the game.  For some reason, they came out in the NFL Color Rush Jerseys tonight. Just an odd look.  Kinda grew on me during the game the more I drank.

To nobody’s surprise; Letang started this show by giving up a bad turn over and Jarry saved him. Sometimes you wonder what Letang is thinking. 

A nice safe play up the boards while the competition is pushing. Nah, cross ice, high risk pass right in front of a good winger, yup, let’s do that.  Jarry is on top of his game and the shot wasn’t the best, so he got lucky on that one. That happens in the playoffs, it’s in the back of your net. 

They led in shots 5 to 1 before the shift by the “2nd line” got on the ice.

McCann played his best Horny impression and took the goalies eyes away.  Then The RUH(wedel) trickled one in behind the goalie. RUH-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to mess with.

Blandisi got caught hooking Sheahan and had to take 2 minutes of shame in the box. The PK killed one against the #1 PP in the league.  They are now 13th in the league, but have killed 5 (now 6) in a row.  Looks like they hit a bump in the road and are back to being an aggressive unit. Martin said they need to engage more and that is what they did.  So much so…

Blandisi popped out of the box like he just set it on fire and got behind the D. ZAR is starting to play like he did 2 year ago, and puts a pass where The Bland can get it in stride.. One *quality* shoulder fake.. Opened up the wickets.. 5 hole, goal, exactly 5 minutes after the Ru-Tang hit it. Pens up 2 to nill.  Seriously nice goal from Blandisi and good pass by ZAR.

The Pens really got their legs after that first goal.  There was some solid back and forth play but our D and Jarry played it well.  Edmonton is a very skilled team and put some good pucks on net.

Marino decide he needed to do a fat line of.. oh wait, wrong Marino.  Marino held Draisaitl and got to end the period in the box. The PK killed it and we went in with 2 in their 4 x 6 to their zero in ours.

The second started with the Oil on the PP.  Big Ben Struck One and the Pens killed the last 30 seconds of the PP. The Oil came into this period with a hard push as you might expect.

The Oil had a bit of the better play with some physical pressure.  They got the setup in the offensive zone and Nurse shot one in from the point. Kassian got the tip on it and Jarry had no chance.  The Pens lead is cut in half down to 1 goal. How do you score against a hot goalie? Yes class, tips and screens. That goal was a tip.

The Oil carried the play for most of the 2nd but Jarry and the D kept things on lock down until Edmonton was McCann’d…

Great forced turnover by McCann. He takes the puck and is off to the races.  Buries it past Smith. Great play by the center. Smith just couldn’t get post to post and McCann took advantage. 2 goal lead restored! Huge goal, we were getting out played and having him pot his first after a 10 game drought was really good timing. He really elevated his game tonight. He has been solid, but he took it to the next level.

Edmonton carried things but Nygard got caught tripping Malkin. 

So what could go wrong with our PP, you may ask?

Well, some people call it a shorty, I call it screwing the pooch.  With one D man on the PP, Edmonton got a bounce and went the other way.  Sheahan buried it, assisted by Archibald, both former Pens.

3 to 2 with 22 seconds left in the 2nd.  It would end that way and into the third we go. Goals at the end of a period can be game changes. Will it be?

Time for the Pens to shut it dahn like it’s last call and get out of here with 2 point. 

The period started with the PP and WE didn’t waste any time getting it back. Usually, you start the period on the PP and it really doesn’t do much. This time, they came out with the mentality that they are going to pot one.  Malkin had a strong shot in the high slot but it didn’t go. The puck ended up in the far corner. Rusty went to work and dug it out and got it back to Malkin who entered the high slot again, faked a shot and passed to Letang who one-timed it and buried glove side.

Smith had no hope on this one. Once the 101st best player in the NHL made the fake, he was Owned like WAWA’s network and your credit cards. Pens make it 4 – 2.

About 4 minutes in Edmonton brought it and got one behind Jarry after it hit the post. But it sat in the blue paint just waiting to be tapped in.  But Ru-Tang was there and cleared the puck. Imagine that, A D-man where he is supposed to be. The players are buying in and listening. It’s the little positional things that clearly signals that this team has bought in and the coaching staff are really paying attention to the little details.

The Penguins are really collapsing around the Goalie and not letting much through, if it makes it through, Jarry stops it and it is cleared. The Pens, up by 2, keep playing their system. I love this.  They don’t ‘turtle’ with all these injuries. They just keep playing their system. 

This stiff D leads to a 3 on 2 and the Pens still have to be the Pens and over pass it. Great shot, better save.

Edmonton made a push and got one behind Jarry. Only problem, McDavid scissored Jarry’s leg and he couldn’t play his position.  Tibbet chose to not “pull a Torts,” used his brain, and didn’t challenge it. Instead they pulled the Goalie.  

*NO VIDEO BECAUSE EDMONTON TWITTER CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!

Pens win the D zone faceoff clean, nice work by Bluegger, Petterson gets it and sends it hard around.. Tanev gets it mid ice and buries it.

It’s now garbage time. Malkin gets his Federov on and drives the net hard and runs the goalie. Smith takes exception and roughs up Geno.  The goalie should have been tossed as well IMO. Malkin hits the showers early. Geno makes sure to call Neal Lazy as he goes to the locker room.

*Game* Suck on that Edmonton. If you come after the King, you better not miss. They just dominate the West.

Thoughts:

They are playing systematic hockey. They don’t change what they do and I think this is key to them winning. Just plug in another person and keep the train rolling. It also keeps the team level when they are down. Malkin is leading this team and he is fire.

Jarry is seeing beach balls right now and is positionally sound. Reminds me of Murray in ’16 and ’17. Murray’s game has slipped and it has shown. From what I have heard, they are working on his game during this time. If he is receptive; I have a feeling we will have 2 solid goalies. You need that to win in the modern NHL.

GAME DAY 36: MY VANCOOTER IS BURNING

Another Back-To-Back day for the Pens. It seems like they have 50 this season.  Tonight it brings them to them great city of Vancouver. The Canucks are 17-15-4 and are in the process of rebuilding af the Sedin Twins left.

They might sneak into the playoffs this year. They are not on the same level as Edmonton but on the second game of a back-to-back, aren’t to be looked past.

The Canucks have been coached by Travis Green since April of 2017. This is his first NHL head coaching gig, but he spent 18 years as a player from 1990 to 2008.  So he isn’t that Green.

They are lead on the ice by Elias Pettersson (the second S makes him 31337!)  with 16 goals and 21 assists. Brock Boeser with 12 goals and 22 assists and JT Miller 13 goal and 19 assists. With Jacob Markstrom in net with 10 wins and 11 loses and a GAA of 2.75.

In other words a pedestrian team.

“MEMBER” ME?

Here are tonight’s lineups:


The Pens come in with the same lineup as last night. Rikkola is in for the sadly oft-injured Schultz.  Malkin and Rust will be on their tear as usual. Snek leads scoring with 17 goals and 19 assists followed by IamScore with 9 goals and 21 assists and Rusty with 13 goals and 12 assists. Man, it seems like Rust has like 30 goals this season for some reason. Murray will get the nod for the first game in what seems like a year but was really last week. 

NEVER FORGET

Let’s see if these coaching sessions have helped. I have a feeling if he has a clean first period you will start seeing him come up to the top of his crease more and more. Once he has his confidence back, he’ll be back in form. Just needs to get back to being the positionally sound goalie we need.

Keys to the game:

  • Keep your legs under you and play solid fundamental hockey
  • Get on the PP early and often 
  • Pot a few early and keep yourself ahead of the sticks
  • Help a brother out, play the same D you do with Jarry. Don’t “Fluery D” him

Great time of year. Perfect  time for a western swing. Have a great evening out for dinner and shopping. Come home, put the kid to bed, crack that bottle of bourbon open and buckle up!